Before the start of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing in Denver last week, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes walked over to the plaintiffs’ bench and shook hands with each of the plaintiffs in the Kitchen v. Herbert case. He was soft-spoken, so I couldn’t hear what he was saying until he got to the plaintiffs seated directly in front of me, Kody Partridge and Laurie Wood. As he shook their hands he said, “I’m sorry we’re causing you pain.”
After returning from Denver Reyes, along with Governor Gary Herbert, attended a bigot rally at the Utah State Capitol. At the rally Reyes echoed the sentiments of event organizers that “we are not motivated by hate, we are not targeting out of animus or any sinister motives particular individuals or families in Utah.”
The sad thing is that people actually seem to believe this nonsense, beyond the ones who are so disingenuously spouting it.
Many people subscribe to the old adage of “never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance.” At this point, I would argue that we are far beyond that. Science, sociology, psychology, and basic common decency demonstrate that there are no societal ills created by equality. The only arguments these people are making are based upon their own religious values and outdated prejudices which are based in ignorance.
There are undoubtedly people amongst this ever-shrinking group of anti-equality bigots who are completely ignorant with regard to the real issues at stake here. Ignorance, however, is not an excuse. In the age of information, ignorance is a choice, and people are responsible for the choices they make.
For others, like AG Reyes, Governor Herbert, Representative LaVar Christensen and that band of bigots known as the Eagle Forum, it isn’t about ignorance. It’s about hate. They can try to package it up as defending religion or protecting the children, but that goes beyond disingenuous and directly into outright lying.
Sociological evidence points out that there are no proven negative child outcomes that result from same-sex parent households. The state’s hired gun, Gene Schaerr, not only retracted the state’s claims based upon the bogus Regnerus study, but went so far to acknowledge in court that there was no conclusive evidence to support such ridiculous claims.
Yet the arguments continue. The bigots still gather together and trot out “traditional” family roles and the need to protect and preserve them. What they don’t do is demonstrate how placing hateful and unconstitutional limits on others serves to protect “traditional families.”
It was an argument made by Peggy Tomsic in the Kitchen v. Herbert appeal, there is no nexus between prohibiting same-sex marriage and strengthening heterosexual family bonds. Will preventing two gay men from enjoying the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage somehow make Sean Reyes’ marriage stronger? More to the point, if his marriage is threatened by the marriage of two gay men or two lesbians, how strong was it to begin with?
There is no rational basis for their opposition to diversity and equality. If they were truly concerned about the strength of families and stable parental relationships for children, they would be demonstrating in favor of marriage equality. The evidence points to children performing better in stable households with two loving parents. Yet regardless of this evidence, what they seek is to prevent the stability created by the legal recognition of those parenting relationships. That’s not protecting families and children, it’s directly harming them.
The bottom line is this: when you boil away the bullshit the only opposition to equality is hatred. This is bigotry that is being pushed by a small, but vocal, core of people and being swallowed by a larger, ignorant mass. While some wish to excuse that ignorance in the name of civil harmony, at this point that ignorance is inexcusable.
AG Reyes, Governor Herbert, and the other people behind this opposition are not ignorant. They are hateful. They are bigoted. The way to deal with that is to call it into the light. As that exposure grows, the willfully ignorant will be forced to see where they stand, and their base will evaporate before their very eyes.